Skip to main content

Full text of "Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana, 1922-1942"

See other formats




The Glory Years of Football 

Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



X 








ea 



Centenary 






By Bentley Sloane 



03 01 IP 100 



The Glory Years of Football 

Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 







By Bentley Sloane 






03 01 IP 100 









The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

The Glory Years of Football 

Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

By Bentley Sloane 

The author was a student at Centenary College during 1923-1927 
when the McMillin teams were opening a new era. 



The story of football at Centenary College of Louisiana in the 
1920s is so dramatic and unique that it deserves special 
treatment all of its own. A small, obscure liberal arts college 
with a student body of less than 300 suddenly fields a powerful 
football team in 1922, and for the next 20 years plays and defeats 
teams in the Southwest Conference (Texas) and some of the 
nation's best in other athletic conferences, including Boston 
College, the University of Iowa, the University of Mississippi, 
Oklahoma A & M, and Louisiana State University. How was this 
accomplished, what did it mean, and what was its contribution to 
the history of Centenary College of Louisiana? This special 
brochure will attempt to answer these questions. 

Intercollegiate athletics was not a tradition that Centenary College 
brought to its Shreveport campus in September 1908, when the 
school opened for its first semester of academic work. College 
authorities had frowned upon any organized teams of baseball or 
football as reflected in the following resolution adopted by the 
Board of Trustees in 1898: 

"Resolved, that we will not countenance or permit students 
of the college or any professor to engage in any 
intercollegiate contests of baseball or football, or in any 
physical games outside the college campus, and we forbid 
all ball play within a hundred yards of any building." 

Prior to this resolution, and no doubt the reason for it, a makeshift 
Centenary football team had played Louisiana State University in 
Baton Rouge and was not only beaten by a large score, but two of 
Centenary's players had to be hospitalized in Baton Rouge for 
several days. 

In 1901 these restrictions were eased somewhat for the baseball 

teams as recorded in the Trustee minutes: 

"Games with other schools are allowed provided our boys 
do not travel on Sunday going to or returning from games." 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



The first official records of athletic teams at Centenary College in 
Shreveport are to be found in the 1908-1909 college catalog and 
the November 1909 issue of the Maroon and White, a monthly 
publication edited by the students. The 1908 catalog states that the 
Centenary Athletic Association was organized and included all 
students interested in baseball, football, tennis, and track teams. 
Professor James Hinton who taught Latin and Greek, was president 
of the Association. One year later, the college catalog announced 
that a spacious and attractive athletic park was ready for use. This 
park was no doubt on the northwest section of the campus, which 
had been cleared "out of the woods" and would be the site of the 
first athletic grandstand erected a few years later. The Maroon and 
White gave the schedule and scores of the football games played in 
1909. The team was called the "Maroons," and Professor James 
Hinton was listed as the coach. Players were listed as follows: 
Clint Willis, Archie Johnson, William C. Honey cutt, Earl 
Whittington, K. Hundley, and D.B. Boddie. No games were won 
that year. Scores were as follows: Louisiana Industrial Institute in 
Ruston 60, Centenary 0; Henderson College, Arkadelphia, 
Arkansas 83, Centenary 0; Louisiana State Normal, Natchitoches, 
Louisiana 17, Centenary 0. This same year a girls' basketball team 
was announced with Professor H.C. Henderson as coach. 

In November 1910, another student publication called The Lookout 
representing the Union Literary Society listed members of the 
football team with D.B. Boddie, one of the players, as manager and 
coach. Boddie later became a Methodist preacher in the Louisiana 
Conference. 

The college catalog for 1912-1913 noted that an "outdoor 
gymnasium" had been erected and included rings, parallel bars, 
vaulting horses, ladders, etc. No doubt it included basketball goals 
since the College was fielding basketball teams at that time. This 
was the year when military drill was introduced and the War 
Department furnished rifles and other equipment. Candidates for 
all the teams mentioned were in short supply since there were only 
70 students enrolled in 1913, and 36 of these were in the Academy 
(prep school attached to the College). 

In 1912, Paul M. Brown, Jr., was a student in the College and 
participated in the athletic program. In 1981, as an honored 
alumnus and trustee, he was interviewed by Dr. Walter Lowrey of 
the History Department, who gave his account of the program: 

"I was involved in athletics and hungry all the time. We 
had a whole lot of light bread and syrup in the dining hall; 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

and when we came in, they would fill us up with this. I 
don't know how good it was for our health, but we endured 
it. I ran with the baseball team most of the time. We 
played baseball in the spring and football in the winter. 
Two of my friends, Clint Willis and A.W. Baird, went on to 
LSU and Tulane University, where they starred in football 
and baseball. The sports we had at Centenary were "pick 
up," and there was no such thing as pure amateurism. It 
was an accepted practice to pick up a good athlete, pay his 
way, and give him some spending money." 

In 1916, President Wynn, in his annual report to the Board of 
Trustees, stated that Centenary's venture into intercollegiate 
athletics was too costly since the total school enrollment was 77 
and only 25 of these were college students. 






Post- War Athletics in the 1920s 

After World War I, the men and women of the United States 
armed forces returned to civilian life and began to channel 
their competitive energies into the arena of sports, creating 
a new generation of heroes unrelated to war. In baseball Babe Ruth 
was the famous name. His team, the New York Yankees, had a 
spring training camp in Shreveport in 1921, and the natives began 
to dream of a team of national prominence to make Shreveport its 
home. Other sports heroes of that day were Jack Dempsey in 
boxing, Bobby Jones in golf, Bill Tilden in tennis, and Jim Thorpe 
in football. 

In American colleges and universities, football was becoming king, 
and the famous coaches and players, trainers, cheerleaders, 
academic tutors (seldom mentioned), and camp followers were the 
subjects of a growing army of sports writers who kept the public 
informed as to school ratings, won-and-lost records, and statistics 
of individual players. The big-name schools were building huge 
stadiums to accommodate the growing crowds. Winning teams 
brought publicity and fame to their schools, and recruiters were 
hired to lure the best high school players. Ivy League schools such 
as Yale, Harvard, and Princeton were producing great teams. The 
University of Notre Dame was widely known through its great 
coach Knute Rockne and his famous football backfield called the 
"Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." (The public knew this much 
about the Book of Revelation.) Some thought the Roman Catholic 
Church in some way brought divine wisdom and power to this 
winning team and its great coach! 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



Move to Upgrade Athletics in 1919 - 1920 
Homer Norton Arrives 

During the presidency of W.H. Bourne, beginning May 27, 
1919, Centenary College made a definite move toward an 
academic renaissance with the ultimate goal of qualifying 
for an "A" grade status and being accepted 
into the highest accrediting associations of 
the nation. As one of the steps toward this 
goal, a full-time coach and athletic 
director, Homer Norton, was brought in 
during the 1919 - 1920 school year. 
Norton had excelled as an athlete at 
Birmingham-Southern College, where he 
was named best all-round college athlete of 
the southeast. After his college career, he 
played professional baseball two years 
prior to his coming to Centenary. Since 
President Bourne had come to Centenary 
from the faculty of Birmingham-Southern, 
he no doubt had known Norton and saw in 
him a man of character and coaching 
ability who would enhance the athletic 
program of Centenary. Norton also 
was the son of a Methodist minister, 
and this fact added to his credentials. 
After he arrived at Centenary, Norton began to put together 
respectable teams in basketball, football, and baseball, and the 
College was playing as a member of the LIAA (Louisiana 
Intercollegiate Athletic Association), having been admitted in 
1921. In 1922, the basketball team, built around the "Coushatta 
five," won the LIAA championship and added Ole Miss as one of 
its victims. 




Homer Norton 



By the fall season of 1921, Norton was able to rejuvenate the 
football program and make a respectable record of four games won 
and three lost against mostly Louisiana teams. Team members 
were from Shreveport or from nearby Louisiana towns. The names 
of this 1921 team are as follows: George Pattison, Coty 
Rosenblath, Lloyd McDade, Clyde Wafer, Robert L. "Dugan" 
Brown, Lamar "Red" Lowery, James Horton, Haywood Manheim, 
W.B. Worley, Albert Harper, Lloyd Townsend, Robert Read, Larry 
Armstrong, Stith Bynum, J.V. Hendrick, Sidney Conger, Eugene 
Williamson, Erwin LeBlanc, and John Preston. Several members 
of this 1921 team became prominent Shreveport doctors and 
businessmen, and one became a Methodist minister. 






The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



A College Football Team That Prayed 

In 1920, a small church-related institution in Danville, 
Kentucky, Centre College, captured the imagination of the 
nation with a football team that had not lost a game since 1917. 
Coached by a unique man, Uncle Charlie Moran, who was not only 
coach but a friend, guide, philosopher, and trainer to the team, 
Centre had beaten teams such as Syracuse and Princeton, and in 
1920 was invited to the Harvard stadium for a game with this 
national giant. Centre's team, known as the "Praying Colonels" of 
Kentucky, and led by the famous quarterback "Bo" McMillin, was 
of such national renown that over 40,000 football fans greeted 
them as they entered the stadium on that momentous day. 
Although losing 24 to 14, Centre scored twice on a Harvard team 
that had not been scored on in two years. 

The climax came the next year, 1921, when the Centre team 
returned for a re-match and beat the Harvard aggregation 
6-0. It was accomplished by a reverse run of 32 yards by none 
other than the famous "Bo" McMillin. He had taken the measure of 
mighty Harvard University. This electrifying news was announced 
to the Centenary student body by President Sexton on November 4, 
1921, when the College had a special interest in securing the 
services of this Centre College athlete. 

This famous football hero received attention from all the major 
newspapers and magazines of the country. His coach and the 
athletic director at Centre College, who produced the "Praying 
Colonels," were placed in the spotlight as noble characters who 
drew upon the resources of Divine Power to inspire the team to 
victory. 

In explanation of how the Centre team had come to be known as 
the "Praying Colonels," Bo relates the following incident: 

"We were in the gymnasium getting ready for the game 
(with Kentucky State) and Uncle Charles (the coach) had 
been outlining our battle tactics. Presently he stopped short, 
and when he spoke again his voice was low and serious. 'I 
suppose I've been what some folks would call a rough cuss, 
but I've always played the game of life straight. You know 
that. I don't go in for religion, and I reckon most of you 
don't, either. But I believe in God and I'm sure He looks 
after folks who are doing their best. Won't one of you say 
just a word of prayer?' And then one of the players, asking 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



the privilege of doing so in a very unconventional way, to 
say the least, prayed. 

"It wasn't a prayer for victory. It was just an honest, 
whole-hearted appeal that every man that day might give 
the best he had in him for Old Centre; that he might play a 
clean game, and not be hurt badly enough so that he would 
have to be taken out. And Centre won the game, 3-0! That 
is a prayer for all of us-that we may play a clean game, and 
that we may not be hurt badly enough to have to be taken 
out. Since that afternoon, no Centre College football team 
has gone on to the field for a game without that word of 
prayer. We don't pray to win. We play to win, and pray to 
play our best. But we believe there's a God who wants 
people to be square and give the best they've got to 
everything they go into. I have noticed, however, that there 
has seldom been any profanity or rough talk around the 
dressing room or on the field since we started this particular 
habit. And I don't think there's a man of us who doesn't 
feel that he's stronger and finer as a result of it." 



Shreveport and Centenary Venture into Big Time Football 

Needless to say, the sports-minded citizens of Shreveport 
were fascinated by the Cinderella story of "Bo" McMillin 
and his famous football team from 
Centre College. Here, indeed, was another 
version of David and Goliath. Little Centre 
was the giant killer among the great 
universities. And a football team that prayed! 
Sunday School teachers could use this fact to 
illustrate their lessons on prayer. Youth were 
inspired by the example of the "Praying 
Colonels," and a Methodist College would 
certainly be blessed with a football coach such 
as "Bo" McMillin. "Bo" McMillin 




Members of the Board of Trustees were impressed, especially the 
sports-minded, and there were several. President Sexton, forever 
an opportunist in his relation to the Shreveport community when 
Centenary College was involved, began to dream of a new coach 
and great football team. If Centre College could do it, Centenary 
could do it better! 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 







In February 1921, a key person in the "Bo" 
McMillin episode, Miss Laura Bishop, was 
added to the Centenary faculty as professor 
of English. She had been a teacher in North 
Fort Worth, Texas, where "Bo" was one of 
her favorite students in grammar school and 
later in high school. She had been teacher, 
counselor, and friend of this restless young 
athlete, and when the Fort Worth school 
secured R.L. Meyer from Centre College as 
coach, this team won the North Texas 
championship with "Bo" as the quarterback. 
When Coach Meyer returned to Centre 
College as athletic director, he took with 
him "Bo" McMillin and five other members 
of this high school championship team. This 
group of athletes from the North Fort Worth 
High School formed the core of the famous Centre College football 
team of the early 1920s. "Bo" McMillin was calling signals for his 
former high school teammates. Miss Laura Bishop knew all about 
the six members of the "Praying Colonels" football team. 

When the Trustees of Centenary College voted to offer "Bo" 
McMillin the coaching job, President Sexton turned to Miss 
Laura Bishop as the one person who could persuade him to 
come to Centenary. She had continued her correspondence 
with "Bo" after he went to Centre College, and now she was 
given authority to negotiate with him for the job at Centenary. 
After she contacted him, he wired back to her that he had offers 
from a school in Birmingham and one in Dallas at $7,000 per year. 



Player McMillin 



Miss Bishop conveyed this information to President Sexton and a 
Board of Trustees meeting was called for December 10, 1921. 



Dr. George Sexton, wise in the way of worldly publicity, presented 
the name of "Bo" McMillin as a possible coach for the Centenary 
College football team. This was done in an apologetic manner 
since he saw no way the College could pay $8,000 a year for a 
coach. The salary of the president was only $6,000. But E.A. 
Frost immediately rose to the occasion, perhaps not unprepared, 
and moved that McMillin be offered $8,000 per year on a two-year 
contract and that the citizens of Shreveport guarantee the money. 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



Soon thereafter, McMillin signed a contract and arrived in 
Shreveport to make preparations for the 1922 football season. 
President Sexton made it plain to the student body that the popular 
Coach Norton would be retained. 

It is interesting to note that McMillin came to Shreveport from 
Centre College, in Danville, Kentucky, the town which had given 
the College of Louisiana its first president in 1825, a Presbyterian 
minister, the Reverend Jeremiah Chamberlain. 

A college that had eschewed football as a brutal and distracting 
game and intercollegiate athletics as wasteful of time, energy, and 
money, now embraces the sport with all fervor as a means of 
attracting attention to itself. Madison Avenue could have learned 
some lessons from President George Sexton. 

The Maroon and White (Centenary's student newspaper) ran the 
following headline on December 16, 1921: 

"Santa Klaus puts McMillin in Centenary 's Sock! " 

Other headlines followed: 

"For a secluded college, Centenary has leaped into fame 
overnight! " 

"The histories of McMillin and Centenary are being run on 
presses in every state in the Union. " 

"Bo McMillin signs a 3-year contract with Centenary" was the 
flaring headline that streamed across the sport pages of the leading 
newspapers of the United States and caused the nation's eyes to 
focus on Centenary. 

Soon thereafter a new song was written for the Centenary student 
body, including the following stanza and chorus (not necessarily 
approved by the English Department!): 

Unto Shreveport from the north and from the south, the 

east and the west, 
Crowds the jam of eager students to the city's pine clad 

crest. 
To develop brain and body Centenary gets the best. 
Great "Bo " is coming here. 
Glory, Glory, Hallelujah! 
Great "Bo " is coming here! 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

On January 13, 1922, the new coach and his bride of a few weeks 
were introduced at a chapel service, and he spoke of his delight in 
coming to Centenary and his plans for a great football team. 

Soon thereafter, a group of prominent citizens organized the 
Shreveport-Centenary Athletic Association and gave a banquet for 
250 people at the Youree Hotel honoring the new coach and 
saluting Centenary's promising future. Members of this new 
athletic association included several prominent trustees and other 
strong supporters of the college: George Wray, chairman, J.C. 
Palmer, E.A. Frost, J. B. Atkins, B.C. Garrett, T.C. Clanton, and 
H.B. Hearn. This new Athletic Association, organized to aid and 
promote athletics at Centenary, was another link in the chain that 
bound the city and the College together in mutual helpfulness. 









ONCOP!N.. !9i 



:^' : 




4:W 




Page 88, 1922 Yoncopin 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



The First "Bo" McMillin Football Team 1922 

The new coach lost no time in recruiting a large contingent of 
prospective football players, some coming as transfers from 
other colleges and many from various high schools who 
were anxious to play under the famous coach. 

Since several players on this first McMillin team were destined to 
be famous names in the athletic world, we herewith list the roster 
of lettermen: 






*Coty Rosenblath, Captain 
*Clyde Wafer 
Mickey Lyvers 

* John Preston 
Les Phillips 
James Weaver 
Herman Hilden 
Bryan Bush 
Maurice Ellsworth 
Sam York 

Cal Hubbard 
Harry White 
Bard Ferrall 
James Pierson 
Charles Dutton 
*R. L. Brown 
H. L. Bridges 

* George Pattison 
Carl Anderson 
Marion Wills 
Harold Dillman 
Richard Denman 

*Albert Harper 

* From previous squad 



Shreveport, La. 
Coushatta, La. 
Kansas City, Mo. 
Shreveport, La. 
DeQueen, Ark. 
Monroe, N. C. 
Boonville, Mo. 
Ruston, La. 
Willoughby, Ohio 
Kansas City, Mo. 
Keytesville, Mo. 
Tyler, Tx. 

Albuquerque, N. M. 
Natchitoches, La. 
Minden, La. 
Jonesboro, La. 
Minden, La. 
Mitchell, La. 
Ft. Worth, Tx. 
Ridgefarm, 111. 
Champagne, 111. 
Waxahachie, Tx. 
Shreveport, La. 



Only six players were carried over from the previous squad 
coached by Homer Norton and they are marked with asterisks. 

The first innovation of the new coach was a football summer camp 
in 1922. As previously mentioned, Centenary had acquired a tract 
of land on Rich Mountain near Mena, Arkansas, through some 
friends of President Sexton. The College experimented with a 
summer school at that location in 1922, and the McMillin team set 
up training at "Camp Standing Rock" in connection with the 









10 









The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

summer school. One player wrote of his experience there as 
follows: "Never will we forget those days spent at Camp Standing 
Rock. It is true that the greater part of the time was spent in 
intensive training. When we were not out on the field in the hot 
August sun we were up in the classroom listening to a lecture. But 
we did have some time to ourselves and many of us got a good 
knowledge of the mountains before leaving. The moonlight nights 
in the Ouachita Mountains are wonderful and they were especially 
impressive from the top of Standing Rock where we congregated 
after supper." * Centenary Yoncopin 1923. 

When the fall of 1922 arrived, the Centenary community and the 
citizens of Shreveport were in full anticipation of a new day in 
Centenary College football. President Sexton had christened the 
team "Centenary Gentlemen," remembering the "Praying Colonels 
of Kentucky" who sent the famous "Bo" McMillin to Centenary. 
"Doc George," as the president was affectionately called, attended 
the 1922 Summer School and continued to be an avid fan, 
accompanying the team on its many trips. 

McMillin Team Opens New Era 

The first game of the 1922 season was with Marshall College, 
and when Centenary won 77-0, the athletic world realized 
that something new had been added to the Shreveport 
school. At the end of the season with the Centenary Gentlemen 
scoring 295 points and the opponents scoring only 41, there was no 
doubt that a great new football dynasty was at hand at Centenary 
College. The one loss of the season was to the University of 
Tennessee Medical School at Memphis 0-14. 

Fifty players reported for duty when the season opened in 1923. 
Nine new names were added to the 1922 team roster: Murrell 
Hogue, Clarence Davis, Paul Rebsamen, Glenn Letteer, Wilburn 
Miller, Wayne Stone, Oscar Hill, and Hiram Lawrence. All nine 
came from the Ark-La-Tex. This was the year when the team lost 
only to Boston College in Boston, and Centenary's Cal Hubbard 
was named All-American. Twenty-three thousand fans saw the 
game in Boston, and the eastern newspapers gave little Centenary 
College (400 students) good national exposure. 



From the results of the 1923 football season, it was clear that 
Centenary was ready to drop the weaker teams and seek 
competition in the stronger athletic conferences. 



11 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



The 1923 scores tell the story: 

35-0 Southwestern Louisiana Institute 

40-3 Henderson-Brown 

46-7 Chattanooga 

31-13 Hendrix College 

46-0 Louisiana State Normal 

23-0 Texas Christian University 

75-0 Kentucky Normal 

0-14 Boston College 

34-0 Southwestern (Texas) University 

14-0 Oglethorpe 

27-0 Louisiana Polytechnic Institute 

This 1923 season heralded things to come when Centenary 
ventured into the Southwest Conference for the first time and 
defeated TCU in Fort Worth 23-0. The Gentlemen played against a 
team coached by Matty Bell, who had also come from Centre 
College and was later to become famous at Southern Methodist 
University. 

McMillin's Last Year - 1924 

Eight new names appear on the 1924 team roster: O.K. Place, 
Theodore Schwarzer, Bryon Faulkner, Pat Weekley, 
Percy Wood, Emmett Meadows, Mack Flenniken, and 
O.W. Maddox. 

The previous loss to Boston College was avenged by a score of 
10-9. Centenary lost only one game and that to the "Tennessee 
Doctors" of Memphis. One excuse offered for the loss was that 
doctors knew just where to hit to cause the most bodily injuries. 
This was not sustained by any scientific evidence! 

At the end of the 1924 football season, the three "Bo" McMillin 
football teams had won 90 percent of their games (26 out of 29) 
and as a result Centenary was favorably known throughout the 
nation. But there were also irritating problems in connection with 
the program. 

One of the obstacles to Centenary's entrance into the SIAA 
(Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association) was its over- 
emphasis on football and the cost of the athletic program. There 
was also considerable criticism by other schools that Centenary 
was using ineligible players, so much so that President Sexton, in 



12 






The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



November 1923, requested the College's athletic committee to 
folly investigate the classroom standing of all football players. 
At this time, Centenary was hopefol of entering the Southwest 
Conference, made up primarily of Texas schools. 



Football Program Costly 

The College trustees were gravely concerned over the deficits 
incurred in the athletic budget, and, despite the winning 
record of the team, the gate receipts did not cover the 
expenses. Historically, this was a new and troublesome condition 
faced by the trustees, who in a previous century had opposed all 
intercollegiate athletics and banned football in particular as a brutal 
and dangerous game. 

The 1924 financial report for the football program alone showed a 
loss of $7, 199. 

Gate Receipts $28,293 

Student Fees 523 

Signs and Ad Space 600 

Total Receipts $29,416 



Coach: Salary & Housing $9,000 

Assistant Coaches 2,775 

Game Expenses 1 9,8 1 3 

Supplies 2,500 

Field 369 

Other Expenses 1,872 

Total $36,615 



The above budget does not include athletic scholarships. The 
athletic budget was a disproportionate amount for a college with 
fewer than 500 students and a total budget of only $1 19,585. 

Some disturbing reports surfaced at the December meeting of the 
College trustees that same year. Centenary had been denied 
entrance into the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as 
well as the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association because 
of the large salary of Coach McMillin and his general reputation in 
athletic circles. It appeared that the chief factor in making 
Centenary nationally known and providing growth incentive was 
now the chief factor in preventing the College from entering the 



13 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



best academic and athletic circles of the South and of the nation. 
These agencies had serious reservations about admitting a college 
with an enrollment of 404 (as of June 4, 1924) that paid its football 
coach a $9,000 (including housing) salary and its president a salary 
of $6,000 plus housing. 

After much discussion at the December 19, 1924 meeting, the 
Board of Trustees ordered that McMillin be offered a one-year 
contract at $5,000 per annum. This of course was tantamount to a 
request for resignation, and it was soon forthcoming. 

The Centenary Conglomerate (student newspaper) of December 
19, 1924, stated that after McMillin' s salary was reduced and he 
was relieved as coach of the football team, Centenary was admitted 
into the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The article 
further states that "in losing Bo McMillin Centenary loses one of 
the most spectacular football players and one of the most 
successful coaches found in college football. Such was the price 
Centenary had to pay for membership in the SIAA." 

McMillin quickly accepted a coaching position at Geneva College 
in Pennsylvania, and a large contingent of students and other well- 
wishers gathered at the railway station on February 6, 1925, to bid 
this remarkable athlete farewell. 

Four Centenary players followed McMillin to Geneva : Cal 
Hubbard, Carl Anderson, Mack Flenniken, and O.W. Maddox. 
With the help of these four, Geneva was able to defeat Harvard in 
1926, another upset. Cal Hubbard went on to the professional 
football and baseball leagues. He was later elected to both the 
Football Hall of Fame and the Baseball Hall of Fame, a unique 
honor for one of the great players of Centenary College. 

Earl Davis, a One- Year Coach 

On February 18, 1925, Centenary obtained a new coach in 
the person of Earl Davis from McKendree College, 
Lebanon, Illinois, another Methodist institution, to replace 
McMillin. However, the job was too difficult for the new coach. 
He was unpopular with the faculty and the student body, and the 
football players, for whatever reasons, rejected him outright. A 
scurrilous letter purported to be written by one of the football 
players raised some doubts as to the intelligence and leadership of 
Coach Davis. This widely distributed letter may or may not have 
influenced the College administration to release the coach, but in 
any event he was soon fired. 



14 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 






The Homer Norton Era Begins 

The 1925 team, with the impetus carried over from the 
McMillin era, lost only two games, to Tulane and Butler. 
The powerful Tulane team was a member of the 
Southwestern Conference and drew 10,000 to the game on 
Thanksgiving Day in Shreveport. 

Members of this 1925 Centenary varsity team were: Paul 
Rebsaman, Percy Wood, Byron Faulkner, W.F. Bozeman, Otto 
Duckworth, John Preston, Ernest Kepke, Audie Marsalis, Glen 
Crawford, Sam York, Jim Pierson, Clarence Davis, Zolie Benett, 
Wayne Stone, J. Horton, Hiram Lawrence, Crawford Young, 
Clyde Faulk, Walter Stewart, Glen Letteer, Emmet Meadows, Files 
Binion, Harry White, Al Beam, Beverly Faulk, and Lloyd Clanton. 
A strong freshman team was waiting in the wings. Most of these 
players were from the Ark-La-Tex. 

For the 1926 football season, a 

wise move was made when 

Norton was named head coach 

and George D. Hoy, coach of 

the strong Shreveport High 

School football team, was 

brought to Centenary as 

assistant coach. Coach Hoy 

brought with him several of 

his football players who graduated that year, including Jake Hanna, 

who became an outstanding star and later the head coach of the 

Gentlemen. The choice of Norton as head coach in 1926 was soon 

followed by another national honor for Centenary when Norton 

was elected to membership in the National Coaches Association. 




Homer Norton George Hoy 






Curtis Parker Joins Coaching Staff 

Another successful deal in 1926 brought Curtis Parker as 
basketball coach and coach of the 
freshman football team. Parker was a 
recent graduate of the University of Arkansas 
where he had been an all-round athlete. He fitted 
into the Centenary tradition with his zeal, 
intelligence, and dedication not only to the 
athletic program but to the general welfare of the 
College. He was a popular figure on the campus 
and in the Shreveport community. His basketball 
teams had a winning record, and, at a later date, Curtis Parker 




15 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

after Norton left, he moved up to head football coach, in which 
position he was a winning coach in his own right. 

Winning in the Southwest Conference 

As previously noted, the Centenary Gentlemen in 1923 
played one game in the Southwest Conference, defeating 
Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. President 
Sexton and his coaching staff had high hopes of Centenary's being 
admitted to this conference, and beginning in 1926 teams from this 
conference were scheduled on a regular basis. The 1926 schedule 
included Texas Christian, Southern Methodist, and the University 
of Arkansas. Although losing to all three by a close margin in 
1926, Centenary soon took the full measure of these powerful 
schools and became the scourge of that conference. One year later, 
four of these schools were victims of the undefeated Centenary 
Gentlemen. 

The 1927 Undefeated Team 

By 1927, the Centenary football team began to reach its 
zenith. Coach Parker, of the freshman team, was feeding 
well-trained players into the varsity unit, and coaches 
Norton and Hoy were producing great teams from a large roster of 
young athletes who were coming mostly from the surrounding 
towns and cities. This 1927 team was the first to go through the 
season without a loss, and among the teams defeated were four 
powers in the Southwest Conference - Southern Methodist, 
Baylor, Rice, and Texas Christian. 









> I >*,<"« 







1927 Undefeated Centenary Football Team 



16 






The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

The large roster of varsity players gives some idea of the dominant 
place football now played in the program of Centenary: Franklin 
Allday, W. F. Bozeman, Robert Brown, Emory Browne, John T. 
Cox, Paul Crawford, Elwood Davis, Harry Davis, Beverly Faulk, 
Roland Faulk, Robert Goodrich, Ted Gregg, Ernest Guinn, 
Clarence Hamel, Jake Hanna, Tony Hernandez, Joe Holloway, Ted 
Jefferies, Louis Jennings, Wiltz Ledbetter, Charles Lindsay, Joe 
Magrill, Peyton Mangum, Audie Marsalis, J. B. Parrish, Leon 
Price, Hubert A. Reaves, Jerome Scanlon, R. D. Sims, Charles 
Smith, Marvin Speights, Kermit Stewart, Stanley Thomas, Tom 
Wafer, W. E. Ward, Fred Willis, E. L. Zechiedrich, Files Binion, 
Fritz Blackshear, Otto Duckworth, Morris Jarratt, William A. 
Robinson, and Ryland Schaal. 

In 1927, as Centenary began to win games in the Southwest 
Conference, sports writers in some of the Texas newspapers 
accused it of playing "ineligible ringers," even declaring that some 
players were sent by McMillin from his Geneva team for the SMU 
game to be played in Shreveport. These libelous reports aroused 
the ire of President Sexton, and he fired off telegrams and letters 
stating clearly that Centenary played only eligible players under 
the rules of the SIAA. The Dallas Times Herald, heeding the 
warning of President Sexton, quickly published an apology and 
correction on October 8, 1927: 

A Correction 

"There appeared in The Times Herald of Wednesday, 
October 5, 1927, a paragraph under the heading 'Pigskin 
Cracklins, 1 by Bill Parker, reflecting upon the character, 
personnel and eligibility of Centenary college football 
team. 

"The statement that 'they will be playing a bunch of 
ringers,' referring to Centenary college football team, made 
by Bill Parker, is untrue. It unjustly reflects upon Centenary 
college football team. 

n The Times Herald apologizes to Centenary college and to 
the boys composing the football team for this statement 
made by Bill Parker." 



17 




The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



The Jake Hanna Years 

We are indebted to Jake Hanna, bearing a famous 
Shreveport family name, for a colorfiil account of 
his years as a football player at Centenary 
and later as coach. 



"I entered Centenary in February 

1927 with 12 other members of the 

Byrd High School football team 

because our assistant coach, George 

Hoy, was joining the athletic 

department there. On September 24, 1927 I played my first 

varsity game on our home field, and a local newspaper 

promoted it with the following article: 

Bargain price for Gents first battle of year 

"In an effort to bring out new patrons and to 
stimulate interest in football, admission price has 
been cut to $1 . Interest in the Centenary football 
team has been high and season ticket sales greater 
than ever. President Sexton hopes to increase the 
football colony this fall. 

"Coaches Norton and Hoy had an aggregation of 
young fellows who loved the game of football, and 
the great psychologist Norton used more than we 
realized to produce the undefeated team of 1927 and 
other successful seasons to follow. 

"As the Gentlemen became more and more a threat 
to Southwest Conference teams there was much 
speculation as to the chances for Centenary to 
become a member of that powerful conference. 
Texas sports writers and the Associated Press spoke 
favorably for this, but practical evaluation must 
have prevailed. At this time Centenary's total 
enrollment was about 500 and this must have had a 
great bearing in the matter being dropped." 



"On October 13, 1928 after Centenary defeated Texas A & 
M, the lead story from College Station read as follows: 



18 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



Coach Homer Norton's Centenary College 
Gentlemen dropped in from Shreveport Saturday 
afternoon to hand the Texas Aggies the first licking 
they had received on Kyle Field since 1926. 

"Coach Dana X. Bible's Texas Aggies had been conference 
champions in 1927. 

"During those years Shreveport fans were the most loyal to 
be found. When the special trains of supporters followed 
the team to out of town games there can be no doubt that 
their kind of enthusiasm carried over to the players. 
Newspaper coverage for all the games was superb." 







1932 Undefeated Centenary Football Team 

The great team of 1932, which helped celebrate the opening of the 
new stadium by beating Louisiana State University and going on to 
an undefeated season, was composed of the following who won 
letters that year: Melford Allums, Perry Ames, John Henry 
Blakemore, Ben Cameron, Paul Geisler, Louis Glumac, Joe 
Guillory, Morse Harper, Maurice Morgan, Ralph Murff, Joe 
Oliphant, Wood Osborne, Harold Oslin, Raymond Parker, Jerry 
Sellers, Manning Smith, Theo Taylor, Eddie Townson, Robert 
Waters, Fred Williams, Tommy Wilson and Richard Young. 

After the win over Louisiana State University, a Shreveport sports 
writer noted, "A tiny gridiron spark that had been smoldering in 
the hearts of successive Centenary College football players for 
about ten years burst into a roaring flame at Centenary College 
stadium Saturday afternoon and claimed as its victim the LSU 
Tigers, a prey it had stalked lo these many moons." 

The Associated Press wrote of this 1932 team: "Centenary College 
of Shreveport with about 400 students and hardly enough players 
to make two football teams, has the title 'wonder team of the 
south'. Not since the praying colonels of little Centre College 



19 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



wrote southern football history a decade ago has a smaller college 
taken the spotlight like the Centenary Gentlemen of 1932. It's a 
little team that never gives up." 

So great were the achievements of Coach Homer Norton in this 
1932 season that the college Yoncopin of 1933 was dedicated to 
him. 

Football Wins Wide Support 

In the middle and late 1930s when the economic depression was 
taking its greatest toll on the nation, and the College was 
cutting back on all expenditures, even to the point of delaying 
salary payments to the faculty, the football teams lifted the spirits 
of the College and the Shreveport community with victories 
against some of the great colleges and universities of the nation. 
The football trip to Los Angeles and to schools in Iowa, Kentucky, 
Ohio, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Arizona generated excitement and 
enthusiasm as special trains carried the teams, the band, the 
cheering squads and large contingents of Shreveport supporters. 
Pullman cars were plastered with Centenary banners and graffiti 
for all to see as the trains moved through the towns and cities. 

In 1936 a special football train of the Illinois Central was 
announced for the game with the University of Mississippi at 
Jackson on November 23. The train left Shreveport at 7 a.m. and 
arrived at Jackson at 12:15 p.m. After the game, the train left 
Jackson at 6: 1 5 p.m. and arrived in Shreveport at 1 1 :45 p.m. The 
round-trip fare in the day coach was $3.25. In 1937, for the game 
with Loyola at Los Angeles, special cars carried the team, the 
band, the Maroon Jackets, and a large group of students and 
Shreveport supporters. The trips into Texas for games at Dallas, 
Houston, Austin, and Fort Worth provided ample opportunity for 
fun and frolic by the student body and the numerous Shreveport 
fans. The Texas sports writers gave wide publicity to this little 
Shreveport school; and when the team won, it was an easy matter 
to recruit students from the Lone Star State. 

We have already mentioned the benefits of the football program in 
the Shreveport community in drawing support for the College from 
wealthy citizens who had a special interest in sports. The 
spectacular athletic teams of Centenary provided the Shreveport- 
Bossier City complex with bragging rights and a measure of 
civic pride. 



20 


















The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



Ten Years of Football Glory 

Beginning in 1927, when the football program at Centenary 
had fully developed, and continuing through the 1936 
season, the teams of that decade wrote a glorious chapter in 
the annals of the oldest chartered liberal arts college west of the 
Mississippi River. With fewer than 900 students in any one year 
and during the darkest days of the economic depression this little 
Southern college was able to fashion a football team made up of 
athletes recruited mostly from Louisiana and the nearby states, that 
won 73 games, lost 22, and tied 1 1 in competition with some of the 
great schools of the nation. Playing against the powerful teams of 
the Southwest Conference during these ten years, Centenary 
established a record of 23 victories, 1 1 losses, and 5 ties. 

In addition to the teams named above, Centenary played and 
defeated several of the outstanding colleges and universities of the 
country: Boston College, University of Chattanooga, University of 
Iowa, University of Arizona, University of Mississippi, Loyola 
University of Los Angeles, De Paul University, University of 
Louisville, St. Louis University, and Louisiana State University. 



w; 



Homer Norton to Texas A & M 

'ith a nation-wide reputation as coach and athletic 
director, and with a winning record against the football 
teams of the Southwest Conference, Homer Norton was 
persuaded to accept a lucrative coaching job at Texas A & M in 
1934. Norton was soon well established there, and after a 
successful career in coaching he settled in College Station as a 
successful businessman. At Centenary, Curtis Parker moved up to 
athletic director and head football coach with E. T. Renfro as 
assistant. 

Walter "Cowboy" Hohmann: A Football Great Tells His Story 



O: 



ne of the athletes playing on the football team 1933-1936 
(was Walter "Cowboy" Hohmann. He heard of Centenary 
College as a football power from the coach of his high 
school near Chicago. His arrival at Centenary in 1933 and his 
subsequent experiences there are the subject of a taped interview 
made by the author after Hohmann' s retirement. 

"After arriving by bus from Chicago I was checked in and 
then had to wait to see if I made the football team. It was 
hard living and my scholarship required that I work on the 



21 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

campus. Our team played and beat some of the great 
schools of the nation. Homer Norton, our coach from 
Birmingham-Southern College, was a great influence on 
the lives of the players, and after he went to Texas A & M 
Curtis Parker carried on. All athletes were required to meet 
the academic requirements. I found the teachers to be 
wonderful people as well as great instructors, and I 
especially remember Dean Hardin, Dr. R.E. Smith, Dr. 
J.B. Entrikin, Mrs. Arthur Campbell, Dr. Pierce Cline, Dr. 
S.A. Steger, Dr. Mary Warters, and others. 

"The Shreveport business community was very much in 
support of the college, and the athletic teams in their games 
proved to be a rallying point for the town people, and the 
entire college community. All of us were aware of the 
strong sense of fellowship throughout the life of the 
college. When I came back in 1963 as dean of students I 
found a college that had grown in amazing proportions with 
many new professors and buildings, but the same great 
community spirit in the students and faculty." 

Hohmann fitted into the Centenary tradition not only as an 
outstanding football player but also as an all-round student and 
leader on the campus, serious about getting an education and being 
useful in society. In 1937, he was named freshman football coach. 

Centenary Football Casualty of Word War II 

With the advent of World War II in 1939, the great years 
of Centenary football came to an end. The actual decline 
in football power began in 1937 with an increase in the 
number of games lost and a decrease in the number of major teams 
scheduled. With former coach Homer Norton installed as the 
successful coach of Texas A & M and the rising powers of the 
Southwest Conference, recruiting in Texas was no longer an easy 
matter for the Gentlemen. Centenary continued to be a small 
college with fewer than 1,000 students as opposed to the great 
schools of the Southwest Conference and other conferences 
included in Centenary's schedule. Since Centenary was never 
admitted to the major athletic conferences, it became more and 
more difficult to include the larger schools in its schedule. Interest 
in the home games began to wane, and subsequent losses in 
income created a continuous financial crisis at a time when the 
College could ill afford any financial losses. 



22 






The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

The decline of the great Centenary Gentlemen football program 
may be plotted by the won and lost records beginning in 1937: 

1937 Won 6, lost 4, tied 2 

1938 Won 7, lost 4 

1939 Won 2, lost 9, tied 1 

1940 Won 3, lost 7 

1941 Won 1, lost 7, tied 2 

Although these were losing seasons, there were several outstanding 
players on the teams whose personal records are worthy of note: 
Alvin Birklebach, Winfred Bynum, Ogbourne Rawlinson, Ed 
Whitehurst, Claude Teel, Jimmy Patterson, and others. 

Curtis Parker Resigns - Jake Hanna Returns 

The year 1940 brought another coaching change for the 
Centenary Gentlemen football team when Curtis Parker 
resigned to enter the oil business in Shreveport and 
Centenary brought Jake Hanna, one of its own great players of 
recent years, back to the campus as head coach. The 1940 
Yoncopin presented a full-page picture of Hanna with this caption: 
"A Star Returns." 



C 






Coach Hanna' s Last Teams 

oach Jake Hanna has written an interesting account 
of the last teams prior to the end of World War II. 

"Eleven years after graduation from Centenary the great 
privilege of returning to the school was given me when I 
was offered the position of athletic director and head coach. 
In January 1940, my contract was presented by the 
Centenary Athletic Committee composed of Charlton H. 
Lyons, Sr., John McCormick, Henry O'Neal, Bonneau 
Peters and Allen Norris. Dr. Pierce Cline, who had been my 
history professor while I was a student, was now president 
of the college and he encouraged me to accept the coaching 
position. He had been one of the best of friends to me as a 
student and continued to be to the end of his life. 
Returning to my alma mater as a member of the faculty 
might be considered my post-graduate degree. 

"I was fortunate to have continue on the athletic staff the 
capable service and support of Elmer Smith as backfield 



23 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



coach and scout, Tom Cobb as line coach, and trainer 
Marvin "Hoof Gibson. 

"I was soon to meet a group of strong, talented and 
knowledgeable young men who were the material I was to 
work with in preparing for a football season in 1940. 

"I was not prepared for the financial difficulties under 
which the athletic department had operated for a number of 
years. This obstacle combined with the cloud of World War 
II became my major problems and made long-range 
planning a dismal prospect. 

"Perhaps the best summary of events taking place in the 
athletic department over the next two years, 1940-1942, 
may be compared to another era in Centenary College's 
history when in 1861 inscribed in the faculty minutes were 
written the dramatic words: 'Students have all gone to war. 
College suspended. And God help the right."' 






■ v - - ?* 



\ x /^ 







1939 team meets new coach, Jake Hanna 

As Coach Jake Hanna indicated in his article previously quoted, 
the military draft in 1940 and 1941 wrought havoc with his squad 
of players, and Centenary's football program declined 
precipitously. The record for the 1940 season was three games won 
and seven lost. 



The final season, 1941, recorded no games won, eight lost and two 
tied against the following opponents: 



24 






The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



Centenary 0, Millsaps 20 

Centenary 20, Creighton 32 

Centenary 6, Louisiana Normal 6 

Centenary 6, Hardin - Simmons 27 

Centenary 0, Texas Tech 25 

Centenary 7, Washington Univ. (St. Louis), 13 

Centenary 0, Rice University 54 

Centenary 7, Texas Christian University 35 

Centenary 0, Southwestern (Memphis) 

Centenary 7, Louisiana Tech 39 

After football was dropped, Jake Hanna continued at Centenary as 
athletic director and developed an excellent program of intramural 
sports that included most of the student body. 

Demise of the Football Program 

As early as May 1939, the trustees began to think seriously 
about discontinuing the football program. Two of the 
strongest trustees, J.B. Atkins and George Wray, headed 
the athletic committee. They were well aware of the problem of 
deficit financing for the program each year. The gate receipts 
continued to decline. At the end of the 1939 season, two meetings 
of the executive committee gave full attention to problems of the 
athletic program. 

At the annual meeting of the College trustees on May 21, 1940, it 
was reported that $5,000 had been advanced to the football 
program from the operating fund, and again the program was 
placed on probation. One year later the Board of Trustees again 
considered scrapping the football program. Attendance and gate 
receipts continued downward, and the team was no longer playing 
colleges from the major athletic conferences. 

The executive committee of the Board of Trustees finally blew the 
whistle on the football program on December 12, 1941, after 
another disastrous season. For the duration of the war, football was 
dead at Centenary. A committee was named to solicit funds to pay 
the athletic program deficit, a problem which had plagued the 
College since the glory years of football in the 1920s and 1930s 
despite the support of the Chamber of Commerce and many sports- 
minded citizens. 

After the war ended in 1945, the College moved to reinstate all 
phases of intercollegiate athletics. However, football had to wait 



25 



The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 

until 1947. The basketball program was reinstated in full, 
beginning with the 1946 season. 

In December of 1946, a committee of seven was created to 
reinstate a football program. Jess Thompson of Lawton, 
Oklahoma, was invited to the coaching position, with Paul 
Cochran as assistant. These two had been coaches at Cameron 
State Junior College in Lawton, Oklahoma. Mr. Charles Rollins, a 
local business executive, was employed as administrative assistant 
to the athletic committee, with responsibility for ticket sales and 
arranging the game schedules. The coach was paid $5500 and his 
assistant, $4000. Since the old wooden stadium was in disrepair, 
arrangements were made to use the Shreveport Fair Grounds 
stadium. Mr. Arch Haynes gave $10,000 to improve the Centenary 
athletic field for baseball and for football practice. Again we see 
the great interest of Mr. Haynes in the Centenary athletic program 
and his continual financial support of the College. 

The attempt to reinstate the football program came to a halt at the 
end of the 1947 season. The trial run of one year was a disaster in 
terms of the won-lost columns, the attendance for the home games, 
and consequently the financial loss. 

The 1948 college Yoncopin gave pictures of the coaches and 
players of the 1947 team and an apologetic write up of each game. 
Out often games, Centenary won only one and that was against 
lowly Louisiana College, never a great football power. Few of the 
competing colleges were well known in Shreveport. Perhaps the 
crudest blow of all that year was the loss to Centenary's ancient 
rival, Louisiana Tech, by a score of 51 to 14. 

This 1948 Yoncopin portrays coach Jess Thompson as a big 
muscular man with a hard-set jaw and serious demeanor. Thirty- 
five players are featured in various action poses with fierce and 
threatening gestures, carrying or throwing the ball, but on the 
playing field the whole aggregation was easily subdued. The 
Chamber of Commerce withdrew its subsidy of the program, and 
coaches Thompson and Cochran were relieved of their duties. The 
executive committee of the Board of Trustees on December 15, 
1947 made it official and final that intercollegiate football was 
dead at Centenary College. This was confirmed at the annual 
meeting of the Board of Trustees on May 29, 1948, and President 
Mickle mildly lamented the demise of this once spectacular 
program at Centenary. Other programs were now developing that 
gave lasting fame and prestige to the institution. 



26 






The Glory Years of Football, Centenary College of Louisiana 1922-1942 



Football Remembered 

The football program at Centenary College had written a 
glorious chapter and deposited a vast fund of memories in 
the annals of this ancient and honorable institution of 
learning. All hail to President George Sexton, who wisely set the 
enlarged football program in motion, to the Board of Trustees and 
the athletic committees, to the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce, 
and the loyal friends of the College whose financial support made 
it all possible. 

All hail to the capable and dedicated coaches, Homer Norton, "Bo" 
McMillin, Curtis Parker, and Jake Hanna, the trainers and business 
managers, and the assistant coaches. 

All hail to the outstanding athletes of the great teams including 
those who failed to win the coveted letter "C" but bore the brunt of 
pounding from the varsity squad. All hail to the supportive student 
body and the fans who filled the stadium and accompanied the 
team on its many trips. Hail to all those known and unknown who 
made possible this epic period in the history of Centenary College 
of Louisiana. To the glory years of football at Centenary, Hail and 
Farewell! 



The End 



27